By: Rita Villa


plague doctor pictureHere at Smidgens we encourage everyone to be creative. Working on personal projects helps all of us learn how to do things in more innovative ways. It stretches our imagination and gets us to put things on the laser we might never do in a normal business setting…like pumpkins, rocks, or even toast. Thinking outside the box makes us better qualified to help you when you wander in here with some unusual material and want to see if it can be laser cut.


When Roy first started this project, I had no idea what a plague doctor mask was. And now that I know, I think the people with the black plague back in the 1600’s must have been more afraid of the doctor than the disease. Besides the terrifying mask, the plague doctor wore a long black cloak, hat, gloves, boots, and carried a cane (to examine the patients without touching them, and also to whip them, driving out the disease…or so it was thought). The mask had a long beak-like nose filled with scented materials to protect the doctor from the “bad air” believed to spread the disease.


IMG_1541At the time, Roy was looking for a leather project that would be more challenging than the other pieces he had been working on, something that wouldn’t be flat, and needed to be formed to fit his face. The plague doctor mask seemed like an interesting choice. (And if he ever needs a Halloween costume, he’ll be all set.)


To start, he drew the design in AutoCad and then laser cut it out of poster board. Once he liked the design, he taped it together to be sure it would fit his face and form to the correct shape. This gave him time to adjust his program before cutting up the expensive leather. Besides cutting the outside shape of the mask, we also cut the eyeholes, the straps, all the tiny holes for stitching, and the holes for the machine screws and buckles he would use on the straps.


After all the leather was laser cut, stained, and dried, he began sewing the pieces together by hand. As he sewed, he formed it into the correctIMG_1540 shape, fitting it to his face. Once that was done he designed the eye pieces which were made from layers of 1/4” plywood and red acrylic. After he glued those in place, he put the straps on with machine screws and nuts, added some buckles so the straps could be attached to his head, and the replica plague doctor mask was finished.


The leather work is beautiful. The laser cut edge and holes are perfect and Roy did a marvelous job designing and finishing the whole thing. But I still think if any of us ever saw a doctor coming at us wearing this creepy get-up we’d be running as fast as we could in the opposite direction!